Brookfield Central picked the wrong time to play its worst game of the year and dropped a 41-30 decision at Sussex Hamilton on Tuesday.
As a result, the Chargers (12-0) took over first place in the Greater Metro Conference race with a 6-0 record, while Central (9-2) fell to 5-1, one-half game ahead of third-place Marquette.
The first half was a barnburner, as both teams went on runs. Trailing 2-0, Central scored nine points in a row as Elijah Goodman put in a rebound, Brad Newman hit a jumper, Goodman put in a rebound and Newman countered with a 3-pointer for a 9-2 lead with 5 minutes, 7 seconds left in the first quarter.
After each team exchanged a basket, Brady Ellingson, Hamilton's star shooter, nailed a 3-pointer, Tony Gumina hit a jumper and scored on a fastbreak and Ellingson hit a three on the buzzer to give the Chargers a 14-11 first-quarter lead.
Hamilton went up 19-16 to start the second quarter, but Central went on its last run of the night. Riley LaChance, who struggled all night with his shooting, hit a free throw, Gunnar Malensek banked in a rebound and hit two free throws, LaChance passed to Caleb Mortag for a dunk, Newman nailed a 3-pointer and LaChance scored on a fastbreak for his first basket of the half.
Central led 23-19, but that was the Lancers' final basket for the next 12:40 until LaChance hit a baseline jumper with 5:37 left in the game.
"Give them credit, their defense was very tough," a disappointed Mark Adams said. "It's a perfect example of win as a team, lose as a team. We didn't play well, and we didn't have any specific player play well either."
"For whatever reason we came out and weren't mentally sharp," he said. "That sometimes is what makes a difference in a game like this. Physically we're a pretty good matchup, but mentally that's what made the difference."
Ellingson took over in the second half with 15 points, exploding for 11 in the fourth period, while LaChance had all six of Central's points. Seven points in a half won't win many games.
Adams was happy with the team's defense.
"We feel if we hold a team under 50 we should win, and we did that tonight but we just couldn't score."
Andy Cerroni was pleased with his team's defense.
"We did a good job of not giving Riley shots in their offense. We did a good job of pressuring him. He played the whole game. He didn't turn the ball over, but he had to work for everything he had. He had a little bit of fatigue going; it's part of what we do.
"We played a lot of kids early. We like to wear people out. But against that 1-3-1 defense, you have to be patient. In the first half, we didn't have the patience we had in the second half."
Goodman had nine boards and six points, but he was blanked after the first quarter and had two rebounds in the second half.
"We handled them on the boards in the second half," Cerroni said. "I challenged them at halftime and they came through."
Ellingson finished with 24 points and Tony Gumina had 12. LaChance's nine point led the Lancers.
Central quiets Raiders
Brookfield Central jumped out to a fast start Friday and defeated Wauwatosa East, 58-42.
Central improved to 9-1 and stayed tied for first place in the Greater Metro Conference with Sussex Hamilton, each with 5-0 records, while Tosa East fell to 6-5 overall and to fourth place (3-2) in the GMC.
The Lancers led 22-6 after the first quarter and then the teams played to a 36-36 tie the rest of the way.
Whereas Central continues to find ways to win - they drilled four 3-pointers in the first period - the Red Raiders once again couldn't put together four good quarters against a quality opponent.
LaChance had nine points with two 3-pointers and Peter Mattiacci threw in two 3-pointers to spark the first quarter run.
"That's been our big thing. If you want to be a champion you have to have the characteristics of a champion," Adams said. "One of the things is how hard you come out. Our thing is to try and outwork people and we were doing that."
Central led 34-16 at halftime and 50-32 after three periods.
LaChance led Central with 21 points while Goodman had 12 points and 13 rebounds and Caleb Mortag finished with eight. Anthony Carroll topped Tosa East with 16 points.
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